Today, we are going to look at the respective NFL Draft hauls for each of the Jets AFC foes. The Buffalo Bills, who haven’t made the playoffs in 12 years, still do not have a franchise quarterback and have routinely ignored pressing needs, especially with their offensive line. On the other hand, the Miami Dolphins have assembled one of the better, young offensive lines in the NFL. The Dolphins are still unsettled at quarterback and running back, but a strong offensive line is a great foundation. Finally, the New England Patriots continue to reload, addressing needs and selecting value picks all over the draft. When free agency gets under way (hopefully sooner rather than later), all four of the AFC East teams figure to be active. The Jet offensive players are currently at ‘Jets West’ in California, working to get ready for the 2011 season.


Mark Throwing Passes At Jets West

1. Buffalo Bills: The Bills used the third overall selection to nab Alabama defensive end, Marcus Dareus. Dareus has the tools to fill in immediately to be an impact player in Buffalo’s 3-4 front. Buffalo also got a great player with their second round pick, Aaron Williams. Williams was the fourth rated corner in the draft and will start immediately. The only problem with Buffalo’s draft is the lack of offensive line help. The Bills waited until the fourth round to address the need by selecting tackle, Chris Hairston. The Clemson tackle was the eleventh ranked tackle in the draft, but is not considered to be an upside pick.

The Bills routinely passed on quarterbacks in the second and third rounds. In the second round, Buffalo passed on Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick and allowed New England to draft Ryan Mallett in the third round. Ryan Fitzpatrick is not the answer at quarterback and this team may be in the running to land Andrew Luck (more on him later) next season. If the Bills do indeed have the first selection next year, they won’t offer much blocking for the Stanford quarterback.

2. Miami Dolphins: Going into the draft, the Dolphins knew that both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams will be free agents. Realizing the need to get younger at the position, the Dolphins nabbed Kansas State running back, Daniel Thomas in the second round. Thomas ran for 1,585 yards and 19 scores for the Wildcats last season. Thomas is viewed by scouts as an every-down back and could take the lion share of carries for the Dolphins in 2011.

The Dolphins bolstered their offensive line in the first round with their selection of guard, Mike Pouncey. Brother Maurkice was an All-Pro center for the Pittsburgh Steelers as a rookie, which helped Mike’s draft value. Pouncey will help bolster the league’s 21st best rushing offense in 2011.

In terms of quarterback, Chad Henne is the starter, but threw more interceptions (19) than touchdowns (15) in 2010. The Dolphins didn’t add any depth in the draft, so it’ll be once again be Henne’s show in 2011.

3. New England Patriots: Here’s where things get interesting. The Patriots added offensive tackle, Nate Solder with their first round selection. Offensive line help was a need for the Pats and Solder can start right away. The Patriots used their second round pick on corner, Ras-I Dowling. Dowling has first-round talent, but wasn’t healthy during 2010. Keep an eye on running back, Shane Vereen. Vereen ran for 1,167 yards and 13 TDs for Cal in 2010. Vereen can also catch passes out of the backfield and gives Bellichick the type of multi-talented running back he covets. The Patriots also nabbed quarterback, Ryan Mallett in the third round. Mallett is arguably the best pure passer in the draft, but there are questions about his work ethic. Putting him in New England is the ideal place for him to learn and study.

The one problem with the Pats? They didn’t add any pass rushing help. They passed on a number of quality rushers in the early second round and got¬†virtually¬†no pass rush from their linebackers last season. Remember, New England passed on Clay Matthews two years ago, who at the time, seemed to be a perfect fit for New England’s system. The Patriots also traded out of the first round, passing on running back Mark Ingram who was selected by New Orleans.

Going into 2012, the Patriots have two first-round picks and two second-round picks. The question begs to be asked–

Are they stocking up picks to make a run at Andrew Luck?

Tom Brady was the MVP last season, but he’ll turn 34-years-old in August. Could the Patriots deal all of their first and second round 2012 picks and a 2013 first rounder for Luck? If the Carolina Panthers hold the #1 pick again next year, it’d be a tempting package. Luck has been rated as a ‘Can’t Miss’ quarterback at the position and has the highest draft grades since Peyton Manning. There are a lot of variables in play here, but it’s not crazy.

Look for the Patriots to be active in free agency. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Panthers send Steve Smith to New England for a second or third round pick. The Patriots must also address outside linebacker.

As for the Jets, they will need to address the wide receiver position in free agency. Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, and Brad Smith are all free agents. The Jets are set on defense, but Sanchez needs his big-play receivers to complement the running game.

The AFC East figures to be a two-horse race again this year with the Jets and Patriots. Free agency will start to paint a better picture, but for now, let’s hope a new CBA is hammered out soon.